Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes ‘Country’ at The Ryman

When I think of Nashville and The Ryman I generally think of country music. That twangy, nasally sound. But Taylor Hicks sure blew that theory with his whomp style music at The Ryman tonight. Even Taylor was amazed to be there!

After his opening number, “Gonna Move”, Taylor announced that he was using Minnie Pearl’s dressing room and just had to come out and say ‘Howdy’ (think Minnie Pearl). At least he left the hat with the price tags still on it in the dressing room!

Tonight’s show, for me, had the level of energy that I saw at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. The crowd was drinking in everything Taylor did, and Taylor was feeding off that energy. According to one of his close associates, Taylor was sick. But as Taylor said in Jacksonville, he would never let a little illness get in the way of performing. And performing he did!

I don’t think he stood still for more than a nano-second at a time! Between his bouncing, bunny hopping, twirling, etc., there was no way to tell Taylor was under the weather. Taylor was moving faster than a roadrunner! Try training a camera on him and you will quickly know what I mean!

The Ryman was definitely a high energy show. The crowd was standing for most of the show. The cheers and whooos following every ending. Taylor was on fire, and the crowd was not ready to extinguish it by any means. Taylor was in his element! And awed at even performing there! He told the audience he was thrilled to be there. That thrill and excitement translated into his performance!

I watched him more closely tonight as he sang and danced, even though my camera was aimed at the stage and Taylor the entire night. He would make a gesture and the band obeyed the command. Taylor could “stop them on a dime, and turn them around”! The band and Taylor were in the same groove, almost as if a single unit of one. It was fantastic to see.

I was glad to hear “Give Me Tonight”. Taylor’s only been doing that song for the last few shows. He nailed it and the crowd loved it! Tonight, Taylor was doing more announcing the songs he was about to perform, and at one point, named one song and said, no let’s do something else. Just like he might have done in a small club in the past. Ah, “The Deal”. Yes, let’s make that deal – Taylor you make and keep as you have promised!

Taylor stated he was going to do a jazzy number, a jazzy “Compared to What”. With drumstick in one hand and cow bell in the other, Taylor was controlling the song’s rhythm. The crowd went wild with it. I was amazed. When Taylor started whistling, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. That man can whistle as beautifully as he sings. And those clicking sounds he makes sometimes when he wants to imitate another musical instrument.

The song that really blew me away (not that the other songs didn’t as well!) was “Goodbye Stranger” or “Supertramp”. Melanie sang a solo part that was so sweet. And Taylor whistled at the end! Taylor has a beautiful whistle that is almost bird-like. The whistling, I can still hear it in my mind. And Taylor was sick? You never knew it. Taylor must be the only man that can perform as if nothing were wrong and then collapse later and let the illness take over until the next performance. Whistle any time, any place, any song. Just whistle!

At some point near the end of his set, Taylor decided to play with the drummer! He took one of the drumsticks from the drummer’s hand and then shook hands with the drummer! And then gave it back! The impish grin on Taylor’s face said it all! HE was having some fun with the band and enjoying every second!

Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” and Rob Thomas’ “The Right Place” are really my all time favorites. Taylor, as usual did them to perfection. I could sing along, and frequently did. Performing for nearly 90 minutes alone, Taylor bade the crowd good night and then he was gone. For only a couple of minutes, at least.

As Taylor came back on stage for his encore, and what an encore it was, he looked like he was chewing something – cookie, gum, lozenge, or something similar. It was cute in a ‘familiar’ sort of way. Taylor was definitely relaxed on stage and with the audience.

The crowning glory was his finale. He started it with “Soul Thing”. And then….and then…. (think “Streaking”) he went into a combo of country and gospel. Perfect for The Ryman. Perfect for a finale song.

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. No, Taylor, it won’t. You’ve come full circle yourself. You spent a year or so in Nashville trying to get your voice heard. You didn’t find success during that time. But tonight you commanded the stage as any country music star would have. Tonight was your night to shine. And shine bright you did.

You have not broken from what you promised. You have stayed true to your musical roots and talents. You have not disappointed. Tonight was my seventh show and I have three more shows in as many days. I don’t get tired of your shows – I get mesmerized and energized. I need more. And tomorrow I get it. Catch you soon!

After the show we went outside by the buses. Taylor’s bus has a pop out or extension or whatever you call it. It gives him more room in the living room area. And the large flat screen TV was going. The blinds were slightly open so it was easy to see inside. Not that I was looking, mind you!

We were waiting in the cool night air to catch a glimpse of Taylor. One of his handlers came out and told us that Taylor would not be signing or taking pictures because he was going to go straight to the bus. He was sick and didn’t need to stand in the night air. We continued to stand around waiting, and my friend and I decided we needed to walk away. Give the poor guy some privacy. The crowd remained. Finally Taylor came out the door to a barrage of flashes. Quickly he was on the bus. He didn’t stop. He was going to take care of himself! Good for you, Taylor. Protect your voice and your health. We can wait! At least, I can!

Get well, Taylor. Get some rest. Don’t forget the chicken soup. And maybe a warm brandy and tea. Try some warm lemonade. Do whatever you need to do. Keep on keeping it real because that’s what we love. All of those Soul Patrol shout outs. Keep them coming! I’ll be back for more!

Yes, I was ‘countrified’ tonight at The Ryman. Taylor did it right! The stars are in alignment, and all’s right with the world.

Taylor at the Ryman - Pictures

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Some of My Favorite Pictures